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Disentangling Genetic, Environmental, and Rater Effects on Internalizing and Externalizing Problem Behavior in 10-year-old Twins

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 February 2012

Meike Bartels*
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Psychology,Vrije Universiteit,Amsterdam,The Netherlands. m.bartels@psy.vu.nl
Dorret I. Boomsma
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Psychology,Vrije Universiteit,Amsterdam,The Netherlands.
James J. Hudziak
Affiliation:
Departments of Psychiatry and Medicine (Division of Human Genetics), Center for Children,Youth and Families, University of Vermont, College of Medicine Burlington, Burlington,Vermont, USA.
Marjolein J. H. Rietveld
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Psychology,Vrije Universiteit,Amsterdam,The Netherlands.
Toos C. E. M. van Beijsterveldt
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Psychology,Vrije Universiteit,Amsterdam,The Netherlands.
Edwin J. C. G. van den Oord
Affiliation:
Virginia Institute of Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond,Virginia, USA.
*
*Address for correspondence: M. Bartels, Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, room 1F 66, van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

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Previous studies have emphasized the importance of rater issues in studying the etiology of variation in internalizing and externalizing problems in children. Earlier results indicate only moderate agreement between parents, and assume that parents assess a specific aspect of their child's behavior. In comparable samples of younger children, additive genetic effects are the main factor explaining individual differences in both internalizing and externalizing behavior. It is unknown whether this pattern of rater influences and variance decomposition will be consistent in older children. Child Behavior Checklists (Achenbach, 1991), completed by both parents, were collected in a sample of 2956 Dutch 10-year-old twin pairs. The etiology of individual differences in internalizing and externalizing syndromes was examined using a model that corrected for possible rater bias, rater-specific effects and unreliability. The best fitting model suggested that disagreement between the parents is not merely the result of unreliability and/or rater bias, but each parent also provides specific information from his/her own perspective on the child's behavior. Significant influences of additive genetic, shared environmental and unique environmental factors were found for internalizing and externalizing syndromes.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2004
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